In Midland, Texas, the epicenter of the oil shale boom over the last decade, parking lots at companies like Chevron, Diamondback and Apache are empty aside from a scattering of pumping trucks. Executives are working from home, huddling with their colleagues and board members to decide how quickly to shut down production and lay off workers. Oil giants like Exxon Mobil have slashed their 2020 exploration and production budgets by nearly a third, and that was before the total oil price collapse at the start of this week.
Many smaller oil companies are expected to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming months after having spent years borrowing billions of dollars to extract and move crude. Production companies have $86 billion in debt coming due between 2020 and 2024, and pipeline companies have an additional $123 billion they have to repay or refinance over the same period, according to Moody’s Investors Service.